Graham Nash
Songs For Beginners

4.5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed for Coffeerooms by Mike Jefferson

Graham Nash's very public affair with folkie idol Joni Mitchell was over. He'd left the orderly, safe confines of England and the solid gold success of The Hollies to take up with renegade rockers David Crosby and Stephen Stills in America, and was enjoying the type of obscene success associated with rock royalty. Yet Nash was homesick, still pining for a love that should have been. Instead of taking to the pipe (as most of his weak-kneed contemporaries did), Nash picked up his guitar and wrote three new songs. "I Used To Be A King" and "Simple Man" were lovelorn lessons learned in hindsight that detailed his broken relationship with Mitchell. Watching his partner Stephen Stills' relationship with Judy Collins (of "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" fame) disintegrate inspired Nash to pen "Wounded Bird." The songs kept coming, and Nash, didn't intend to release a solo album, soon had one. Since it centered on his getting used to be an ex-boyfriend and an expatriate, Nash called the album, "Songs For Beginners."

Rhino Records has remixed Nash's first and best solo album, and it's indeed a new beginning for anyone who's been pampering their old CD version of the album released way back in the 80s. The bass drum thwacks with authority (the percussion and bass were muffled in the original), the other instruments are crisp, and you can actually hear Nash inhale as he prepares to sing. All that clarity takes some getting used to, but you'll love the results!

Nash learned to craft hooks and catchy melodies during his half dozen years with The Hollies, a Top 40 hit machine he founded with lead singer and childhood buddy Alan Clarke. Along with guitarist Tony Hicks, Nash and Clarke co-wrote songs that still pop up on the radio forty years later, including the banjo-draped Farsi romp "Stop! Stop! Stop!" the flirty "Bus Stop," and "King Midas In Reverse," Nash's narrative about a man so luckless, everything he touches turns to dust. Nash found himself at odds with the group in 1968 when they opted to record an album of Bob Dylan covers instead of waxing new material. The Blackpool born Brit bolted when the group refused to record his composition "Lady of the Island," which they felt was too overtly sexual for their pristine pop image. Quitting the group after an American tour, Nash found himself harmonizing in California with rock refugees Stephen Stills (fresh from the Buffalo Springfield's premature demise) and David Crosby (tossed from The Byrds). The result was rock and roll kismet.